this is bbc world news, i'm reged ahmad. our top stories: a work of fiction and the author a fraud — president trump hits out at the writer who has accused him of being unstable. one of 12 men to have walked on the moon, the american astronaut john young, has died at the age of 87. aid workers say hospitals have been hit in airstrikes on rebel strongholds near the syrian capital, damascus. and ba rcelona—bound for an eye—watering $192 million, liverpool's philippe coutinho is set to become one of the world's most expensive footballers. hello and welcome to bbc world news. donald trump has again attacked the author of a controversial book that accused him of being unstable and incompetent. the president told a news conference at camp david that he had been a tremendous success,
and that the book fire and fury by michael wolff was a work of fiction. here is david willis in washington. boarding a flight to camp david for meetings with senior members of his party — the image of donald trump that republicans would like to project, one of order, professionalism and control. instead, the president is battling claims contained in this book that senior advisers share the view that he is mentally unfit for office. so the commander—in—chief took to social media to assert... later, he took aim at the book's author, michael wolff, who had been given access to the white house to write it. i consider it a work of fiction, and i think it's a disgrace that somebody‘s able to have something — do something like that.
the libel laws are very weak in this country. if they were strong, it would be very helpful. you wouldn't have things like that happen, where you can say whatever comes to your head. but, just so you know, i never interviewed with him in the white house at all. he was never in the oval office. we didn't have an interview. possibly the most damaging claim contained in the book is that the president lacks curiosity, doesn't read, doesn't listen, is like a child. they all came to the conclusion, gradually at first, and then faster and faster, that something was unbelievably amiss here, that this was more peculiar than they ever imagined it could be. the book portrays the white house in a constant state of chaos, reeling under the influence of a petulant, easily distracted commander—in—chief. having successfully passed legislation just before christmas
reforming america's taxation system, senior republicans were probably hoping that a new year would mark a new start for the trump administration. but, instead of moving forward on such key issues as immigration reform, the focus now is completely on the president, his personality, and whether he is mentally fit to hold office. the american astronautjohn young, who was one ofjust 12 men who have walked on the moon and who flew the first space shuttle mission, has died. he was 87. young enjoyed the longest career of any space astronaut, serving nasa for 42 years. he went into space six times, including on the apollo and gemini missions. earlier i spoke to commander chris hadfield, former astronaut and commander of the international space station, who knew john personally. he is perhaps the most experienced astronaut in all of history. he flew
six times. he flew four different rocket ships. he was the first ﬂight rocket ships. he was the first flight of gemini, he did the first ﬂight flight of gemini, he did the first flight of gemini, he did the first flight of the space shuttle, as you said, he walked on the moon. john was a fascinating, devoted, passionate, and really fearless man. and just a role model for so many astronauts, and including the six people that are up in the space station right now. life really well lived, and a good friend of mine. as you say, a good friend, and you knew him personally. and there are so many him personally. and there are so ma ny lovely him personally. and there are so many lovely stories about him, including that he took a corned beef sandwich up on a flight. on his very first flight, on the first flight of gemini, actually, he realised we are just people, and there is nothing magic going on here, and we are going to get hungry, and he brought a corned beef sandwich with him, and he took some heat for it. but he went on to become the chief of the astronaut office, longer than any other astronaut, and to have a career that all of us just marvel
over. so it looks like nasa got over the corned beef sandwich eventually. but what an incredible guy. and he wasn't interested in the past. if you talk to him about what was going on in space, he would want to talk about his previous flights or having walked on the moon, he is interested in what is going on now. what are the upcoming moon missions, where are we headed next? what other problems we want to solve right now? is just problems we want to solve right now? isjust a problems we want to solve right now? is just a forwardthinking individual, right until the end. is just a forwardthinking individual, right untilthe end. so it sounds like he was still very involved in what nasa was doing. was he still working on projects, as far as you know? whenjohn retired officially from nasa after 42 years, in 2004, i think, the gift that we gave him from the astronaut office was a permanent access badge to come to the space centre, to come into any meeting he ever wanted to come to, to lend both his expertise, but also his engineering acumen. and john would come into meetings for yea rs john would come into meetings for years afterwards as a retired person, just because not only was he
interested , person, just because not only was he interested, but he had so much to contribute. of course, he was 87 when he passed away, and age catches up when he passed away, and age catches up with us all, butjohn was... he was as much a part of the space programme as anybody has ever been. i know you say that he was very forward—looking. but how did he viewed his legacy? did he ever talk to you about that? he wasn't the type of guy to talk about a legacy, but he wrote a book cover and in it he talked about the fact that he was just so happy to have had all this opportunity. and given the chance to change anything, he would do it all again the same way. he would have brought the corned beef sandwich again too, i think. but huge risks. when we flew the space shuttle, we had never flown that rocket before. the first time we have tried that rocket, he and bob were on board. i mean, what a complex risk to sign up
to. we do seem to be losing a generation of these astronauts that we re generation of these astronauts that were pioneers. how do you think that he will be viewed by the next generation of astronauts? do you think he will continue to inspire them? sure, he is a historic figure. he was legend when i was hired as an astronaut 25 years ago. he will continue to be legend. but the most experienced american astronaut now is peggy whitson, she has all the records. and there are six people up on the space station right now, and we have the biggest rocket that exists in the world is launching at the end of this month. the chinese are landing on the moon with a small robot rover later this year. so is the indian space agency, and all of thatis the indian space agency, and all of that is built on the legacy of the people that have gone before. john would be very proud of all of what he had done, but much more interested in what is happening this year, and how are we going to take advantage of everything we have learned, and how can we turn that back to be useful to understanding
the earth itself? john was just as passionate as he could be about it all, and just gave his all to contribute, to make all of this stuff happened. as forward-looking man as he sounds like he was, it must be quite sad, though, for the community to be losing more and more of these men who were the first to walk on the moon. i don't think the fa ct walk on the moon. i don't think the fact that they have reached the end of their natural lives diminishes anything. there is of course grief and sadness. when we went on vacation, john would take care of ourdog. he vacation, john would take care of our dog. he was a lovely guy. but i think more we are just immensely proud of what each of the astronauts and all of the engineers and people who work in the space business have been able to accomplish. when i was born, no one had everflown in space. all of this is less than even my lifetime. so there is still a great nudist to it, and a great delight in inspiration that comes from it —— newness. and john is one
of those stars of the past that people will look at and wonder as they try and decide what could i contribute? how can i be part of this? how can i make myself somebody like that? the astronautjohn the astronaut john young, the astronautjohn young, who has died at the age of 87. reports from syria say 17 people have been killed in air strikes in rebel—held eastern ghouta. the british—based syrian observatory for human rights says another 60 people were wounded in the besieged rebel stronghold, close to the capital, damascus. more strikes in this area and in the rebel—held, northern province of idlib have been reported by aid workers. they say ten hospitals have been hit by syrian government and russian bombers over the last ten days. this report from our middle east regional editor alanjohnston. the race through the smashed streets, the dash into a ruined building. for the rescue workers, after the bombs fall, the routine is all too familiar
here in the rebel—held enclave of eastern ghouta. higher up, people emerge from what might be a flat. perhaps they were at home when the bomb crashed down. the cries of shock and horror at it all echo through the wreckage. the injured are gathered up, but there have been reports of deaths, too, on this day of many air strikes in the enclave. translation: we have received more than 50 people today in the emergency department because of the massacre. we documented ten victims and we have three others who are severely wounded and may die at any moment. aid workers say ten hospitals have been hit in recent days, in ghouta, and here in the rebel—held province of idlib. eastern ghouta lies on the edge of damascus. from here, rebels can
fire into the capital. government forces have had this area under siege for years. people here come under attack almost daily. there is every danger that tomorrow there will be more of the same. we are getting reports from syria that unmanned aircraft have attacked the main russian airbase. pro—government facebook pages say the russian base at latakia came under two waves of attack by the unmanned vehicles. they say the airbase defences shot down all the drones. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news: here in britain, prime minister theresa may is going to reshuffle her cabinet on monday and tuesday next week. three senior ministers have resigned in the last two months. there had been speculation that change was imminent, but no date had been confirmed. the saudi authorities have confirmed the arrest of ii princes who staged a sit—in protest at a royal
palace in the capital, riyadh. reports say they were protesting against saudi royals having to pay their own utility bills as part of new government austerity measures. police in cyprus say they are holding an israeli citizen who is accused of organ trafficking. moshe harel was allegedly involved in luring donors to kosovo a decade ago to sell their kidneys for transplants needed by rich israelis. many of the donors remained unpaid. a cypriot police spokesman said he was arrested at larnaca airport in late december. germany and turkey moved a step closer to reconciliation on saturday when germany's foreign minister hosted his turkish counterpart. relations between berlin and ankara have been strained in the aftermath of the failed coup in turkey in 2016. the foreign ministers have now agreed to improve cooperation and relations. seref isler reports. the turkish foreign minister had come to germany with an offer of new beginnings, and he stayed for tea. his german counterpart offered a
warm welcome, but it might take more than germany's famous food to restore relations completely. at the body language was friendly, and both men spoke of the need for dialogue, better co—operation and mutual understanding. after all, germany is tu rkey‘s understanding. after all, germany is turkey's is the export market, and has the world's largest turkish diaspora. the two countries our nato allies, and they were careful to stress the closeness of the two countries. translation: turkey and germany are both proud and honourable states. his two peoples do not give in to pressure, or threats. now, you could be forgiven for thinking that europe and turkey never had a falling out. but, in 2017, when germany bans political rallies by turks ahead of the presidential referendum that gave president erdogan more powers, this was his response. translation: germany, you have no relation whatsoever to democracy. you should
know your current actions are no different to those of the nazi period. when we say that, they get disturbed. why are you disturbed? chancellor angela merkel, in turn, poured cold water on the prospect of tu rkey‘s poured cold water on the prospect of turkey's long—running eu membership bid ever reaching fruition. turkey is now trying to turn the page. but concerns remain. turkey's eu bid has stalled in recent years, leaving president erdogan to admit to french president erdogan to admit to french president macron on friday that tu rkey‘s president macron on friday that turkey's long way from the ship was exhausting. his government has also arrested tens of thousands of officials, academics and activists in the wake of a botched coup attempt in 2016. this drew criticism from rights activists. so perhaps it is not surprising that the german foreign minister's words urge caution. translation: we should not expect to have the same opinion of all subjects. there are differences
of opinion. but i think it is in our best interest to continue our debate with openness and mutual respect, on an equalfooting. for with openness and mutual respect, on an equal footing. for now, with openness and mutual respect, on an equalfooting. for now, it with openness and mutual respect, on an equal footing. for now, it seems, the sides had agreed to disagree. stay with us on bbc world news. still to come: orthodox christians from bethlehem to moscow are beginning their celebrations of christmas. the japanese people are in mourning following the death of emperor hirohito. thousands converged on the imperial palace to pay their respects when it announced he was dead. good grief! after half a century of delighting fans around the world, charlie brown and the rest of the gang are calling it quits. the singer paul simon starts his tour of south africa tomorrow, in spite of protests and violence from some black activist groups. they say international artists should continue to boycott south africa until majority rule is established. teams were trying to scoop up lumps of oil as france recognises it faces
an ecological crisis. three weeks ago, the authorities confidently assured these areas that the oil from the broken tanker erika would head out to sea. it didn't. the world's tallest skyscraper opens later today. the burj dubai has easily overtaken its nearest rivals. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: a "work of fiction" and the author "a fraud" — president trump hits out at the writer who's accused him of being unstable. one of 12 men to have walked on the moon, the american astronaut john young has died at the age of 87. the east coast of north america is shivering
in a record—breaking freeze. it comes after a massive snow storm that reached as far south as florida. in parts of the us, temperatures are forecast to fall below —30 degrees celsius. the extreme weather has so far been linked to up to 19 deaths in the us and two more in canada. tom donkin reports. —— well earlier, i spoke to sarah keith lucas from the bbc weather service. she explained the causes of this severe cold. it is down to what is happening with the jet stream, so that is a ribbon of fast moving air, high in the atmosphere, and it drives weather systems around the world and what is unusual at the moment, why it is quite so cold, the jet stream has plunged really far south, further thanit plunged really far south, further than it usually does, there is a kink in thejet than it usually does, there is a kink in the jet stream which is what drove the explosive cyclone genesis, said the deepening, the rapid deepening of the storm we saw, and
because it is so far south it is allowing air to spill from the across eastern canada and eastern states as well. how rare is that these men like this? every winter we see low temperatures across parts of the eastern states and eastern canada but this kind of storm system happened around about every 25— 30 yea rs happened around about every 25— 30 years is what italy quite unusual about this particular system is firstly how fast that has got, as far down firstly how fast that has got, as fardown in firstly how fast that has got, as far down in florida, it is actually affecting also whether in the caribbean at the moment, heavy rain there, and the duration, it has been going on to quite a while, and we have more cold weather to come over the next few days. so speaking of more cold weather, how long will this last? it looks as though things will pick up as we head through next week. certainly tonight and saturday will be exceptionally cold, potentially record—breaking low temperatures. sunday, another cold day, but it isn't until tuesday that we will see the temperatures in new york for instance just about above
freezing by day but they will still stay bitterly cold, down to a roundabout —14 celsius also overnight for about the next four or five days. only a very gradually warming trend. it is pretty extraordinary what we are seeing that will we see more of this in the coming months, years? as the waters of the ocean of the world's oceans are warming up a little bit it gives more fuel to these kinds of systems so more fuel to these kinds of systems so it is likely that we will tend to see increased frequency of these type of events, very, very strong rapidly developing storms and severe cold snaps as well. sport now and the brazilian forward, philip coutinho, is leaving liverpool for barcelona for one of the highest transfer fees in football. the spanish giants are thought to be paying $192 million for the player, making it the world's third most expensive move. after joining liverpool from inter milan 4.5 years ago, coutinho became a firm favourite with fans, playing 201 games for the club. stoke city have sacked their manager, mark hughes,
—— cricket are expected to build a strong lead over england in the fourth ashes test. i had real sports correspondent patrick geary in sydney just geary in sydneyjust play begins. it is about 10:20 am and we have come under the shade such as the heat already and the players will have no such option, they will have to go out in around 40 celsius temperatures and it will feel even hotter than microsoft of england players because they are 130 runs behind and they have six wickets to ta ke behind and they have six wickets to take under facing the march of the marsh brothers, sean is sure to this entry, mitchell king the ball to all parts. the pitch is starting to spin a little more but it will probably favour nathan lyon who has been more effective in this series. england's main task now is to slow the game down, so australia down. they probably cannot get victory anymore, england, australia will want to score quickly and get into the
batsman, take a ten wickets they need to make his 4—0 to england will be looking to show some character perhaps, perhaps salvage a draw. show a bit of character, is that our england can get back any pride at the end of this final ashes test? babble maybe get some pride but let's not forget they have lost the ashes, they have no chance of hitting hold of the burn and that was their missions have failed, but in the fourth test in melbourne they did show some battling spirit, and the thing that take some credit for that. if they can get something here that. if they can get something here that will at they can get something here that will least show they stayed together. the last ashes to hear to be honest, players retired in the series, the coach went at the end of it, and it was shambolic. it hasn't happened this time, the team is still together, but they simply haven't been good enough in the key moment they will be looking out to try to cut back on, back to the end of the march, and make sure that they can compete with australia but they can compete with australia but they are a long way at the moment from beating them in these conditions. as patrick are addicted,
shaun marsh wasted no time in notching up his second century, reaching the milestone in the first session of the morning. his brother mitch moved on to 82. australia has a lead of 178. french postmen and women are taking on the role of rural social workers, keeping an eye on the old and lonely on behalf of their relatives in the city. it's a new scheme created by la poste, which is looking for new openings as the amount of physical mail to be delivered continues to decline. french postal workers helping the elderly. orthodox christians have been celebrating christmas eve. these pictures show the midnight christmas mass being held in moscow, in the presence of patriarch kirill. in st petersburg, russian president vladimir putin also celebrated mass. the ritual of the holy cross retrieval in greece and turkey —— the ritual of the holy cross retrieval in greece and turkey was also observed. here, the patriarch of constantinople throws the crucifix into the
golden horn in istanbul. swimmers then braved freezing temperatures to retrieve the cross from the water. and in bethlehem, orthodox christians have been attending midnight mass at the church of the nativity in the town. the palestinian president mahmoud abbas was among the congregation. and egyptian coptic christians have celebrated the start of their christmas. president sisi joined the head of the church pope tawadros the second as he led midnight mass at a cathedral east of cairo. police have increased security at the country's churches after fears of possible attacks. a gunman killed at least 11 people last week in attacks on a coptic church and a christian—owned shop near cairo. it was the latest in several attacks on the minority in recent years. much more on our website.
don't forget, you can get in touch with me and some of the team on twitter, i'm at bbc reged ahmad. see you soon. hello there. sunday is set to be another very cold day, we have clear skies which is set to bring a good deal of sunshine by day but will look something like this, a lot of sharp frost around, potential that averages close to —15 degrees across the sheltered lens of scotland. so a very cold start with some icy stretches to watch out for as well. a lot of sunshine on offer though as we move through the day on sunday. let's look at the morning. across the rural blend of scotland, we will have the coldest temperatures, as i said potential are close to —15, it rises to eight degrees by 9am, a few showers of the northern isles of scotland. northern ireland and northern england, buckling sunshine, frosty, watch out for icy stretches
we have had some showers. a few showers perhaps across the east of england. dry and sunny towards the south—east, some clouds drifting around but the wind chill with a brisk northerly wind across southern england and wales. through the day it is looking dry, fine and settled after the cold frosty and icy morning. there will be a lot of sunshine on offer from morning. there will be a lot of sunshine on offerfrom most morning. there will be a lot of sunshine on offer from most places. roosy in the far south but also for the northern isles of scotland with one or two showers. elsewhere drive at temperatures between zero or six degrees for most of us. sunday also ending ona degrees for most of us. sunday also ending on a cold note, another very cold night ahead sunday night and on into monday morning. if you're heading to work early on monday watch out for icy stretches on the roads because even in towns and cities the temperatures will be down below freezing. just a little mild along the south coast because we will have more clout filtering in. but will be the theme for monday, the cloud in the south will nudge its way further northwards, clouding over a big part of east anglia, the midlands into wales later on. it
will still cold where you have the clout around. lots of sunshine and northern england, scotland and northern england, scotland and northern ireland, fairly light winds across much of the country, and other largely dry day, 2—6, but the cloud thick enough for a bit of drizzle on the south coast. eventually we lose the blue colour, the cold air mass, and we see something milder creeping in from the atlantic as ahead through tonight and into tuesday, but eventually some wet weather arriving in the west but actually much of tuesday again dry, fairly cold, fairly cloudy, the breeze picking up from the west. that is ahead of this band a friend which will be mild but went from the west as we had through the end of the day. temperatures for— six on tuesday. slowly turning a little more mild with some outbreaks of rain through the course of next week. goodbye. this is bbc world news. the headlines: president trump has said that a new book which suggests he is mentally unfit for office is a work of fiction, and that the author, michael woolf, is a fraud. the president's lawyers had tried to block the publication of the book.
reports from syria say 17 people have been killed in air strikes in the rebel—held district of ghouta, a suburb of the capital, damascus. aid workers say at least ten hospitals in rebel—held areas have been hit in the last ten days. the american astronautjohn young, who was one ofjust 12 men to walk on the moon, has died. he was 87. he also flew the first space shuttle mission, and enjoyed the longest career of any american astronaut. brazilian midfielder coutinho has become the world's most expensive foot taller, joining barcelona for $190 million —— footballer. now on bbc news: witness.